Published on July 13, 2022

Have Fun and Stay Safe on the Sturgeon River

The Sturgeon River is a beautiful landmark in St. Albert and a fundamental part of our city’s rich history. The river also provides residents with an excellent opportunity for physical activity in nature and is a popular way to spend a sunny afternoon. As you venture out this summer season, it is important to remember a few things when using the Sturgeon River. 

Using the River Safely

Wear a Flotation Device
Wearing a life jacket substantially reduces your risks while out on the water. Even for strong swimmers, currents can be unpredictable and cold water can affect breathing, nerves and muscle strength. Ensure your life jacket fits correctly and all zippers and buckles are secure.

Head out in Groups or Pairs
It is always a good idea to bring a buddy when heading out on open water. If you are recreating alone, let someone know your trip details, including where you are going, when you depart and when you are planning on returning.

Keep an Eye on the Water Level
Water levels fluctuate in the Sturgeon River and Big Lake throughout the year. Stay off the river when it is high with fast moving water as there may be floating debris and unpredictable currents. During long periods of heat and little rain, the river is low and recreation devices may drag on the bottom, get caught on vegetation or disrupt beaver dams. Visit the Government of Canada’s website to check the water levels before heading out on the river.

Be Aware of the Weather
Check the forecast before planning your trip on the river. As conditions can change abruptly and with little warning; keep an eye on the sky and adjust your plans accordingly. If you see lightning, get off the river immediately. 

Stay Sober
Never mix alcohol or drugs with open water recreation. These substances impair proper judgement and can lead to dangerous situations.

person getting in kayak at the Riel Recreation Park boat dock

5 kayaks paddling down Sturgeon River

Where to Enter the River

The City maintains multiple river access points. These are ideal for kayakers and canoers to enter and exit the river with as little disruption to the natural areas as possible.

Canoe and kayak rentals are available at the Riel and Mission boat launches from third-party vendors. For more information, visit Edmonton Kayaks (Riel Recreation Park) and Fusion World (Mission Boat Launch).

Environmental Impact of River Activities

As we engage with nature it is important to be mindful and respectful of these natural environments. Many animals, fish and aquatic vegetation rely on a healthy river for food and shelter. The riverbanks and shallows of Big Lake are also home to a wide diversity of migratory birds; it is classified as an Important Bird Area, which is a nationally recognized title. Be sure to minimize disturbances to shorelines, which can disrupt nesting birds and may lead to nest abandonment.

Important Note: Motorboat use is banned on Big Lake, and only canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and boats with engines smaller than nine horsepower should be used in the river.

If you are bringing any food or supplies on the river, make sure to pack it out with you. Consider picking up any floating trash you encounter and help keep the river beautiful and clear.

Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species with three simple steps: (1) Clean, (2) Drain, (3) Dry all equipment, including paddles and lifejackets. Learn more in the video below.

Source: Government of Alberta

When fishing along the river, use responsible fishing practices and follow all Alberta Sportfishing Regulations

The City is committed to protecting and monitoring the water quality of the Sturgeon River and working with the Sturgeon River Watershed Alliance to improve the health of the watershed.

people cleaning along the river

people cleaning along the river

Clean and Green RiverFest

Mark your calendars for this year’s Clean and Green RiverFest happening on Saturday, September 24, 2022. This annual event brings volunteers together to collect litter before it enters the river, and plant native trees and shrubs, intended to increase wildlife habitat along the Sturgeon River.


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Last edited: July 13, 2022